Created in 2013, The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first ever pan-African prize celebrating first-time African writers of published fictional novels – aimed at discovering new creative talents and promoting the growing publishing industry in Africa.
A few weeks ago, Jowhor Ile was awarded the prize for his debut novel, And After Many Days, making him the first Nigerian to take the prize in the competition’s four years. The prize had previously gone to writers from The Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
His book And After Many Days beat out South African writer Jacqui L’Ange’s The Seed Thief and fellow Nigerian writer Juliet Iromuanya’s Mr and Mrs Doctor.
Here’s a brief synopsis of Jowhor’s And After Many Days via Penguin Random House:
During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family’s life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of seventeen-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son.
As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy, they embark on a painful and moving journey of immense power which changes their lives forever and shatters the fragile ecosystem of their once ordered family.
Jowhor became a name to watch in the literary scene in 2013 when Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave him a shout-out during an interview, saying “there’s a young man called Jowhor Ile who is just finishing a novel, who I think is really spectacular. His novel, when it comes out, will be very good.”– and she was clearly right.
The coveted win comes with a £15,000 cash prize, a book tour to three African countries and a fellowship at the University of East Anglia, mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland.